What is the Clay Bowl Effect & Why It Matters
New Jersey Waterproofing Solutions for Clay Bowl Effect Problems
The clay bowl effect may sound unfamiliar, but if you have water in your basement or bowing foundation walls, you are, unfortunately, already familiar with its impact. We'll explain the clay bowl effect, how to recognize its problem signs, and most importantly, proper and effective solutions to the problems it causes.
For homeowners and businesses in New Jersey already dealing with basement water or foundation damage, you don't need to face these problems alone. Blue Umbrella can help. We have provided permanent solutions to problems created by the clay bowl effect for thousands of customers throughout New Jersey. So if you are looking for reliable, trusted basement and foundation repair, Blue Umbrella is your and New Jersey's trusted waterproofing company.
But let's get back to understanding the clay bowl effect, starting with what it is.
Clay Bowl Effect Causing Basement Water?
Blue Umbrella is the solution. We provide permanent, proven waterproofing, encapsulation, and foundation repair.
What is the Clay Bowl Effect?
To understand the clay bowl effect, you need to hop back to when your home was first constructed.
Excavation Creates the Clay Bowl
The first step in building your home was digging a large hole several feet below grade. The hole was dug with extra space for your contractor to pour or build the foundation, creating a large "bowl" in the earth. Older homes were built with approximately 6.5 - 7 foot ceilings in the basement. Nowadays, homes have 8-10 foot basement ceilings. That is an even bigger hole dug into the ground for your foundation.
Once the foundation was complete, the bowl was filled with the excavated soil. This replaced soil is known as backfill. No matter how hard you try to pack it down, backfill is and always will be looser and less dense than the undisturbed soil outside of the bowl.
The "clay" part of the clay bowl effect refers to the backfill itself. The shallow, backfilled soil can have a high clay content, especially when your home is near large bodies of water, like many homes in New Jersey. The key takeaway is that your foundation sits in a hole filled with loose, high clay-content backfill soil - a "clay bowl."
Trapped Water Creates the Clay Bowl Effect
The effect of the clay bowl comes from the clay itself. Clay-dominant soil is also known as expansive soil. As the name suggests, expansive soil expands as it fills with water from heavy rainfall, flooding, a high water table, or inadequate gutters and yard drainage. As the clay soil expands, it pushes outward, and since backfill soil is looser than undisturbed soil, there is more space for water to fill.
As the expansive clay backfill becomes waterlogged and expands outwards, it presses up against the foundation walls of your New Jersey home. The more water in the soil, the more pressure against your foundation.
Hydrostatic pressure increases the force of the water and soil against your foundation. With enough pressure, your basement walls start to give, leading to wall cracks, bowing walls, and water seeping into your basement.
Problems Due to The Clay Bowl Effect
The Clay Bowl & Basement Water
The first problem resulting from the clay bowl effect is basement water. As the water pressure mounts in the soil surrounding your foundation, the water pushes against your walls, slowly wearing through, creating wall cracks. The wall cracks allow water to seep into your basement.
At first, any basement water will be minimal. You might notice an increased humidity in your basement or begin to see efflorescence on the walls. But this is just the beginning. If not addressed, the moisture will grow into water droplets, then trickling water, and before you know it, you could walk downstairs to your New Jersey basement flooded after a heavy rainstorm.
Moisture and water in the basement can lead to wood rot, property damage, and mold growth - requiring extensive, expensive repair work. Best to fix the problem as soon as you can. The Clay Bowl Effect can also impact homes with crawl spaces rather than basements.
Clay Bowl Effect & Crawl Space Moisture
If the crawl space of our New Jersey home is built below the grade of the outside ground, its construction requires digging up the soil (creating a clay bowl). If that is the case, your crawl space is susceptible to the same issues as a basement.
Having moisture and water problems in your crawl space can lead to mold growth, allergies from spores, musty smells, and rot. You can prevent these problems with crawl space waterproofing and encapsulation.
Clay Bowl Effect & Foundation Damage
Having water in your New Jersey basement or crawl space isn't the only problem caused by the clay bowl effect. Waterlogged soil can also have a direct impact on your foundation.
The hydrostatic pressure caused by water build-up in the soil surrounding your foundation can place hundreds of pounds of pressure on the foundation walls. No matter how strong your foundation, it can't withstand constant inward force. Eventually, your walls may begin to bow, tip, or lean inwards. If not fixed quickly, foundation damage can escalate into a dangerous situation.
Your best bet to avoid issues caused by the clay bowl effect is to spot the problem signs quickly and have Blue umbrella's New jersey basement and foundation experts install permanent solutions.
Clay Bowl Effect Problem Signs
To solve these clay bowl effect problems before they cause irreversible damage to your New Jersey home, you have to be able to recognize when they're happening. Common problem signs to watch out for include:
- Moisture. Before there is water in your basement or crawl space, there will first be moisture. Moisture can manifest as increased humidity in the space, visible mold, mildew smell, a white powdery substance on the walls known as efflorescence, and condensation on the windows or walls.
- Wall cracks. Pressure from the expansive soil will press against the walls, which creates visible cracks in the walls. The most problematic cracks are horizontal cracks along the length of the wall or stair-step cracks along the mortar joints on block cmu walls.
- Wall bowing. With enough external pressure, you may notice your walls begin to bow, tip, or lean inwards. The bottom block can also start to move in, which is called shearing
Solutions to the Clay Bowl Effect
Now that you know about the problems caused by the clay bowl effect and how to spot them, you can take steps to protect your home. Your first step is to reduce the potential risks of the clay bowl effect to your New Jersey home.
How to Reduce the Clay Bowl Effect
While your home's foundation will always be subject to the clay bowl effect, you can reduce your exposure to water-logged, expansive soil.
Adequate Gutters & Downspouts
By simply ensuring your gutters are clean, appropriately routed, and have downspouts draining water at least 15 feet from your foundation, you can prevent water from seeping into the earth around your basement. Upgrading to 6-inch gutters and downspouts may also be helpful
Exterior Drainage & Yard Grading
A New Jersey exterior drainage system can prevent water from pooling around your home by transporting it away from your home. An exterior landscape drain is discreet and non-invasive while protecting your home from unwanted water build-up. Additionally, grading your yard so that rainwater runs away from your home helps prevent waterlogged soil.
How to Prevent Basement & Crawl Space Water
If you have already taken care of your gutters and dealt with exterior drainage, you may still need help with issues from the clay bowl effect if you have substantial rainfall or a high water table. Blue Umbrella offers expert basement and crawl space water control solutions for homeowners and businesses in New Jersey.
Blue Umbrella uses interior and exterior basement waterproofing solutions, though interior waterproofing is often the less expensive and just as effective option. Interior basement waterproofing includes.
- Weep holes drilled into the base of the basement walls to reduce moisture and hydrostatic pressure in your walls
- French drains installed under the basement floor to collect water and bring it to an internal sump pump
- Sump pumps, like Blue Angel by Wayne pumps, to collect and pump out any water
- Battery backup sump pumps, for emergency protection
A completed waterproofing system by Blue Umbrella in your basement keeps your basement permanently dry and your New Jersey home protected.
Crawl Space Encapsulation
In addition to waterproofing your crawl space, Blue Umbrella offers New Jersey crawl space encapsulation systems. Encapsulation seals your crawl space away from outside air and humidity using a sealable door and waterproof vinyl lining. We also add a sump pump to remove any water that sneaks in.
How to Put a Stop to Foundation Damage
If you already see signs of foundation damage in your New Jersey home - horizontal, vertical or stair-step cracks or bowing walls - you can stop the damage in its tracks with reliable NJ foundation repair services. Blue Umbrella uses two reliable home foundation repair methods.
Carbon Fiber Straps
For less intense wall damage, we opt for New Jersey carbon fiber strap installation. Carbon fiber straps which stabilize your bowing foundation walls like steel I-beams. They act like a cast, bonding to the wall and holding it in place. In addition, these strips can easily be covered up or painted over.
Steel I-beams are an affordable, stable, and minimally disruptive solution if your walls are bowing or leaning more than two inches. In addition, the I-beams stabilize your New Jersey basement wall, preventing any further damage.
Let Blue Umbrella Fix Your Clay Bowl Water & Foundation Problems
Well, now you know what the clay bowl effect is, the potential damage it can cause, problem signs to watch out for, and how to avoid and fix problems it can lead to, your next step is to chat with Blue Umbrella's New Jesey basement, foundation, and crawl space specialists.
If you have any concerns about basement water, bowing walls, crawl space moisture, or simply questions about the clay bowl effect, reach out to us today for your free New Jersey foundation inspection. We look forward to hearing from you!
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